CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s one of the top killers of children, and it gets little funding for research.
Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes. In the U.S., one in every 285 children will develop the disease before they turn 20.
CBS 2’s Erin Kennedy reports, while the numbers are startling, a very special 4-year-old boy is fighting hard to beat the odds.
In a lot of ways, Chase Ewoldt of Wheaton is like any other 4-year-old.
“I like to play outside, whistle, and play games,” he said. “I like to eat ice cream … strawberries.”
But Chase has been forced to grow up quickly. At 2 ½ years old, he was diagnosed with a very rare brain cancer called atypical radtoid tumor or ATRT.
“If I would want people to know one thing about Chase, it’s that he’s very determined,” his mother Ellie Ewoldt said.
Their son was given just a 20 percent chance of survival, so Chase’s parents, Ellie and Bob, decided to start one of very few treatment options: a rigorous, year-long chemotherapy regime and brain surgery at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Ellie said after the initial diagnosis, she and her husband were asking themselves, “What are we going to do? This is too great for us to handle. This is too big, and too intense. And a dear friend said, ‘All you can do is moment by moment.’”
That’s just what they did. It took more than 230 hospital stays and visits in just one year, but Chase’s family finally got news that left them in awe: a clean MRI.
“Watching him run, and be active just brings such joy to my heart; because there have been so many days when he was just white, and underweight, and too weak,” Ellie said.
The journey has not been easy, and sadly, it’s not over.
Just last month, scans showed new spots, and now the family must wait weeks to find out whether the cancer has returned.
Ellie and Bob have decided to tell their story, in part because of their involvement with St. Baldrick’s, the largest donor to childhood cancer research in the country.
“They give funding to doctors who are actually doing research to advance childhood cancer cure rates,” Bob said.
Chase’s doctor is one of them, and Chase is participating in his latest research study.
While they wait for answers, his parents focus on their current challenge: keeping up with him.
Tuesday was Chase’s first day of school. His mom said he’s really happy, and thrilled he’ll be able to ride the bus with his friends by the end of the week.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month; but Chase, his family, and his doctors hope to get the word out all year long.